Otherwise Occupied

Someday, the modern mother who is not currently employed will find herself filling out forms, and specifically, find herself required to write something for “occupation.” Sigh. What to say? While she is continually occupied (lunches, laundry, got to find those health forms, get a math tutor?) it seems she lacks an occupation. Many are tempted to write “Family COO” or Family “CEO” depending on if they actually know the difference between a COO and a CEO. Others might prefer to stick to the more straight-forward “at home”, the slightly cloying "homemaker", or of course just “mother.”

But it’s hard not to feel like writing “mother” is not enough these days. Not only does the term not describe entirely who she is and how she spends her time, but most mothers these days also have a paid occupation to list. As so, what should the stay at home mother say? Does she write, “former defense attorney” or “former software developer”?  Or does she list her most ardently pursued non-parenting, but non-income generating activities: “blogger,” “marathon runner,” or “PTO president”?

Thanks in part to the Real Housewives franchise, women who do not work are seen more than ever as entitled, dumb, and shallow. The reality, of course is that mothers enter and exit the workforce regularly. Those not employed for a salary are often employed keeping schools, community and religious institutions afloat: running the school fundraisers, teaching Sunday School, coaching, organizing food drives, or even just helping to give rides to the children of mothers who are on a plane to London for a business meeting. 

These days, I have settled on “currently at home” since I have been out of the work force for the latest 3 out of my 12 years as a mother. But perhaps I should embrace the career distortions highlighted in the Poorly Drawn Lines comic below. After all, doesn’t a few blog posts a month make me as much of a blogger as the person reposting cat pictures on tumblr?


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for the stay at home mothers. the world wouldn't work, or work nearly as well, without them. for the record, i am not a stay at home mother.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wonder what Ann Romney puts on their tax return?

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